Eulogy for Yitzhak Rabin

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Eulogy for Yitzhak Rabin

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Assassinated

Eulogy

By: Noa Ben-Artzi Pelossof

Date: November 6, 1995

Source: Eulogy for Yitzhak Rabin, delivered by his granddaughter at his memorial service on November 6, 1995.

About the Author: Noa Ben Artzi-Pelossof delivered a passionate and heartfelt eulogy for her grandfather, Yitzhak Rabin, when she joined the world's dignitaries to speak at the funeral of the slain Israeli leader. She was not yet eighteen years old when her grandfather was assassinated. At age nineteen, she wrote the book In the Name of Sorrow and Hope that combined a biography of Yitzhak Rabin and an autobiography of his only granddaughter, describing their lives in Israel, and making a strong plea for peace in the Middle East. Noa details life in war-torn Israel, including the constant fear of potential violence and the possibility of harm befalling friends and family. She writes of the horrors of random violence, political extremism, and of the long-lasting effects of wars in the Middle East (Lebanon, the Intifada, the Gulf War) and of the internal strife caused by terrorism both from outside and from within Israel.

INTRODUCTION

Yigal Amir, a law student and member of a right-wing Jewish extremist group, assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the evening of November 5, 1994. The assassination occurred while Rabin was attending a peace rally intended to quell growing violence between factions of Israeli right-wing settlers and Palestinians. Rabin had intended the peace rally to affirm the dedication of the government and of the people to the creation of a lasting peace for Israel.

Although there had been many pledges by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a separatist Palestinian paramilitary group, to end acts of violence and terrorism in the months preceding the assassination, there had been increasing Palestinian aggression in the territories. This was met by agitation by Israeli right-wing and fundamentalist settlers who were opposed to the peace process. On the West Bank, some extremist Rabbis gave sermons in which they expressed the belief that Rabin was a traitor who persecuted the Jewish people. Some members of the Likud Party, political opponents to Rabin's Zionist Party, stated that Rabin's followers were traitors and terrorists. Extremist right-wing propaganda likened Rabin and his followers to Nazis.

Rabin refused to allow the threats to limit his public appearances or to diminish the energy with which he pursued the peace process. He was reported to have said that the Likud Party, which was vocally opposed to the peace process, was fomenting right-wing hatred that could lead to potential public acts of violence.

In confessing to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir stated that he did so in order to put a halt to the Middle East peace efforts. He reported that he planned the attack on the Prime Minister well in advance and did so because Rabin wanted to "give our country to the Arabs. We need to be cold-hearted."

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SIGNIFICANCE

Yitzhak Rabin was characterized by other world leaders as a man who died in an effort to bring peace to the nation of Israel. Rabin shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Shamon Peres and Yassir Arafat in 1994 for their joint efforts to achieve peace between the people of Israel and those of Palestine. He had pledged, as the goal of his political career, to bring an end to the religious and ethnic wars of the Middle East.

Rabin was in the process of leaving a peace rally in Tel Aviv, attended by an estimated 100,000 people, when he was killed. More than 4,000 invited dignitaries from around the world attended his memorial service. In recognition to Rabin's life mission to bring peace to the Middle East, the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarek referred to him as "a fallen hero for peace." King Hussein of Jordan said of Rabin, "You lived as a soldier, you died as a soldier for peace." Shimon Peres, who became Acting Israeli Prime Minister upon Rabin's death, related a conversation with the former Prime Minister that took place at the peace rally immediately before the assassination: "You told me there are warnings of an assassination attempt at the large rally. We did not know who would strike. We did not imagine the harm would be so great. But we knew we must not fear death and we must not hesitate for peace."

Peres continued the peace process and attempted to negotiate a full peace accord with Syria. The talks broke down when the Arab extremist group Hamas began a wave of terrorist attacks in Israel. On April 17, 1996, Israel executed a 17-day attack on targets in Lebanon. During the bombardment, the Israeli military accidentally struck the UN base at Qana, killing over 100 civilians and UN personnel. The following day, members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah fired rockets into settlements in northern Israel.

The peace process begun by Rabin fully disintegrated as violence continued in the region. Israeli elections in 1996 ushered in the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who made any further progress in the peace process contingent upon the Palestinian Authority's ability to control Arab extremist attacks in Israel. While suicide attacks were greatly reduced during Netanyahu's administration, the formal peace process stalled.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Books

Artzi-Pelossof, Noa Ben. In The Name of Sorrow and Hope. Schocken Trade Paperback, 1997.

Web sites

CNN World News. "Rabin's Alleged Killer Appears in Court." <http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9511/rabin/amir/11-06/index.html> (accessed July 2, 2005).

MidEastWeb.Org. "The Last Speech of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin—Assassinated November 4, 1995." <http://www.mideastweb.org/rabin1995.htm> (accessed June 29, 2005).

Nobelprize.org. "Yitzhak Rabin—Biography." <http://nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/1994/rabin-bio.html> (June 29, 2005).

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